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Why Unlimited Mobile Data Isn’t Actually Unlimited

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“Infinite” is a big word in the mobile world. Everyone wants an unlimited data plan.That’s why carriers like to use the word, but “unlimited” rarely really means unlimited. for several reasons.

There was a time when unlimited data plans were literally unlimited. You pay a monthly fee and you can use as much data as you want. However, as more and more people in the world adopt smartphones, those plans no longer exist.


related: Should you pay for an unlimited data phone plan?

Throttle speed

The biggest problem with most “unlimited” data plans is the speed limit. A common practice with unlimited plans is to only allow access to a certain amount of high-speed data, such as 25GB. After using this much data, your speed will slow down.

In fact, the only thing that is truly “infinite” is How many data you can use. It doesn’t state a limit on data speed. You’re more than welcome to use more than 10GB, but connections will be much slower after that.

Video quality limit


Another common tactic used by “unlimited” plans to limit data usage is video streaming quality caps. Some “unlimited” plans don’t allow you to watch YouTube or Netflix at the highest quality.

From an operator’s perspective, this makes sense. Streaming video at 1080p or 4K resolution uses more data. By limiting the quality, they can provide “unlimited” data while still limiting the amount of data you use.


What happens when many people try to access the network at the same time? That’s when it’s time to de-prioritize. Carriers limit speeds to ease network congestion, but that’s not always fair.

This is usually more severe on MVNOs than on major carriers. However, it’s still a way to limit the amount of data you use. If you’re on a lower-tier “unlimited” plan, you may be prioritized for someone who pays more.

What is “unlimited”?

Data usage chart

Obviously, these “unlimited” plans have a lot of limitations. Speed ​​limit, video quality limit and priority limit. So which part of it is truly infinite? As mentioned, it’s usually just the amount of data you use.

There’s nothing stopping you from burning through 50GB of data in a month, but it doesn’t say anything how You hit 50GB. It could be slow playback of 480p video and is constantly being prioritized by high paying clients.

Do true unlimited plans exist?

Does all of this mean that there are no truly unlimited plans available? No, but they are harder to find and not cheap. For example, AT&T has a truly unlimited plan with no data speed caps or video quality caps. capture? One line is $85 per month.

Carriers are willing to offer truly unlimited plans, but you’ll pay a lot for it. “Unlimited” plans are cheaper and generally sound better for most people. Just make sure you know what you’re paying for.

related: How To Save On Your Cell Phone Bill With An MVNO



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